Nano Assault Neo Review
See PixlBit's Review Policies
On 12/03/2012 at 09:09 PM by Nick DiMola
The brightest stars burn out first.
If you’re only interested in quick burst gameplay or high score chasing, this one’s for you.
Roughly one year ago, German developer Shin’en released the latest entry in the “Nano” series and what turned out to be the first in the Nano Assault series. Nano Assault Neo recycles some of the content from that release, but removes the Star Fox-like levels and shifts all of the focus to the pure twin-stick shooting levels. This new focus proves to be a big success, but the shortened selection of levels (16, down from 32) leaves something to be desired.
One of the most interesting features of the game is the level design. Though nothing like Super Mario Galaxy from a gameplay perspective, the planet-like levels are the focal point of Nano Assault Neo. Players have the ability to steer a ship around every inch of the interestingly shaped cells that house each level of Nano Assault Neo. Invading organisms have infected these cells and the only means of clearing them out are blasting them off the surface.
Each and every cell is unique and the organisms that occupy them are varied, though some of the most basic enemies can be spotted across a variety of different cells. Navigating the terrain, avoiding shots, and retaliating with gun fire is what Neo is all about, and with wave after wave coming from all angles things never get easier.
Of course, the game progresses in difficulty respectfully as you move down the list of cell clusters which require purging. The first cluster is thinner on enemies with wide-open landscapes and a low threshold for success. By the last cluster, you’ll be forced to weave through tight areas, handle massive amounts of enemies and avoid bullet hell-like patterns as they pollute the surface of the cell.
Like the Super Stardust games, it’s exhilarating and fun to lay waste to the masses of enemies, but there’s just not enough to Nano Assault Neo to retain your attention for long. While it does feature 16 total levels, only 12 of them are actual cells requiring purging. The other 4 represent boss battles that punctuate each cluster. As such, it’s quick work to finish all of the clusters and rarely challenging enough to require restarting.
At the point of completion, the game is quickly transformed into a high score focused experience. It’s necessary to think before you move, aim accurately, and avoid getting hit. Furthermore, players will need to focus on collecting credits (in-game money) to purchase items in between levels that help make it easier to rack up higher scores, like the item that raises the max multiplier from x5 to x9. A selection of achievement-like missions also gives players a set of 14 goals to work towards that dovetail nicely with the Survival Mode you unlock upon completion of the game.
Survival Mode gives you one life (3 hits) and requires you to last as long as possible, but it's made tougher when you come to realize that you can't purchase 1ups in between levels. A subset of the achievements (missions) requires completion of a sizable number of levels in this mode, so it's likely that obsessive players could spend quite a while here.
While Nano Assault Neo is a blast to pick up and play, it's just a bit too short to be a worthwhile investment for most gamers. If you’re fortunate enough to have a group of friends to stay in competition with, Nano Assault Neo will likely hold your attention for a while longer, but it’s not likely that most will be this fortunate.